Drosteeth Spiral

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Today in "Bucket of Cocks" News

Biological Resource Center raid: FBI finds cooler of penises

The now-shuttered, for-profit Biological Resource Center specialized in accepting the bodies of people after they had died, and in exchange offering their families free pickup of the bodies plus the cremated remains of the body parts the company did not sell.

Arizona is a regulatory-free zone for the body-parts industry. At least four body donation companies are operating in Arizona, in addition to a non-profit cryonics company that freezes people after they die with the intent of one day bringing them back to life. [...]

In addition to a "cooler filled with male genitalia," Cwynar testified that he also saw a "large torso with the head removed and replaced with a smaller head sewn together in a 'Frankenstein' manner."

Cwynar said he saw:

  • Large male torsos with limbs and genitalia removed.
  • Buckets and coolers with various body parts, including a bucket of heads, arms and legs.
  • Body parts piled on top of each other throughout the facility, with no apparent identification.
  • Steel freezers with frozen body parts inside with no apparent identification.
  • [...]

A 2013 price list that is part of the court file indicates sale prices for body parts:

  • Whole body with no shoulders or head: $2,900.
  • Torso with head: $2,400.
  • Whole spine: $950.
  • Whole leg: $1,100.
  • Whole foot: $450.
  • Knee: $375.
  • Pelvis: $400.

Author: "And I'm going to call the owner of this business... Stephen Strange."
Editor: "You can't use that, it's taken."
Author: "Ok, fiiiiiiine, Stephen Gore."
Editor: "Much better."

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Bulk Song-ID?

Dear Lazyweb,

It's been years since I last asked this, so let's try again: is there yet a way to Shazam a bunch of files in bulk to identify their contents? I'd like to run such a thing over the archived DNA webcasts to generate actual playlists after the fact.

There used to be a thing called Echoprint but I never got it to work, and it's gone now anyway.

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Slacking on security

Apparently Slack had a massive breach back in 2015 for which they are only just now issuing password resets. The breach wasn't just of encrypted passwords but also injected a key logger to capture plaintext passwords.

The CEO of Keybase has some things to say about this:

In the subsequent days and weeks, I reset all of my passwords, threw away all my computers, bought new computers, factory-reset my phone, rotated all of my Keybase devices (i.e., rotated my "keys"), and reestablished everything from the ground up. It cost Keybase and me a lot of time, money and stress. In the end, I was pretty sure but not 100% convinced that if I had been "rooted", that the attackers couldn't follow me to my new setup. But with these things, you can never know for sure. It's a really scary thing to go through. [...]

Also, Slack's announcement seems to say 1% of accounts were still compromised (after 4 years), but we are wondering: how many were compromised then? And what percentage of messages did the compromised accounts have access to? 10%? 50%? Only the hackers know, but it's likely much more than 1%.

And finally, we know the original compromise was in 2015, but I was only notified of a suspicious login in 2019. Were our Dutch friends sifting through our messages for four years before Slack notified us of a suspicious login? [...]

Keybase messages are end-to-end encrypted, and only our users control their decryption keys. A break-in our of our servers, even one injecting code, cannot yield unencrypted messages or jeopardize message integrity.

Now, grain of salt and all, being from a competitor, but I'm with Keybase on this one. I can't see any good reason to choose Slack over Keybase unless you are making the decision that you want the slider between "convenience" and "security" to be wayyyyyy over to the left.

I've been lightly using Keybase for a little while now. Setup is definitely complex, but once its running, it's good at what it does -- which is to say, IRC channels with end to end crypto, but also mission-critical EMOJI.

It is sure as shit better than Signal: it doesn't leak your phone number, and is actually open source.

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Neural net encoded in glass doesn't use electricity

Nanophotonic media for artificial neural inference:

We show optical waves passing through a nanophotonic medium can perform artificial neural computing. Complex information is encoded in the wavefront of an input light. The medium transforms the wavefront to realize sophisticated computing tasks such as image recognition. At the output, the optical energy is concentrated in well-defined locations, which, for example, can be interpreted as the identity of the object in the image. These computing media can be as small as tens of wavelengths and offer ultra-high computing density. [...]

Fig. 2. (a) NNM trained to recognize handwritten digits. The input wave encodes the image as the intensity distribution. On the right side of the NNM, the optical energy concentrates to different locations depending on the image's classification labels.

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The lesson from the ruins of Notre Dame: don't rely on billionaires

"They don't want their money "just to pay employees' salaries."

Barely has the fire been put out before some of the richest people in France rush to help rebuild it. From François-Henri Pinault, the ultimate owner of Gucci, comes €100m (£90m). Not to be outdone, the Arnault family at Louis Vuitton put up €200m. More of the wealthy join the bidding, as if a Damien Hirst is going under the hammer. Within just three days, France's billionaire class has coughed up nearly €600m. Or so their press releases state.

A few folk question this very public display of plutocratic piety, but we are of course professional malcontents. Some of Paris's 3,600 rough sleepers protest at how so many euros can be found for a new cathedral roof yet not a cent to put a roof over their heads -- still, what do the poor know of the sublime? From all other seats, the applause is deafening. "Billionaires can sometimes come in really handy," remarks the editor of Moneyweek. [...]

Weeks go by, then months, and Notre Dame sees nothing from the billionaires. The promises of mid-April seem to have been forgotten by mid-June. "The big donors haven't paid. Not a cent," a senior official at the cathedral tells journalists. [...]

But for now, let's call this the Parable of the Disappearing Billionaires -- a tale that goes to the heart of much that is wrong with modern philanthropy. Whether dispensed by the Sacklers of opioid fame, or sponsored by BP at the British Museum, it often comes on the terms and timelines of the wealthy, with the epic generosity hiding a much harder bargain. [...]

They have banked the publicity, while dreaming up small print that didn't exist in the spring. As another charity executive, Célia Vérot, said: "It's a voluntary donation, so the companies are waiting for the government's vision to see what precisely they want to fund." It's as if the vast project of rebuilding a 12th-century masterpiece was a breakfast buffet from which one could pick and choose.

Meanwhile, the salaries of 150 workers on site have to be paid. The 300 or so tonnes of lead in the church roof pose a toxic threat that must be cleaned up before the rebuilding can happen. And pregnant women and children living nearby are undergoing blood tests for possible poisoning. But funding such dirty, unglamorous, essential work is not for the luxury-goods billionaires. As the Notre Dame official said last month, they don't want their money "just to pay employees' salaries". Heaven forfend! Not when one could endow to future generations the Gucci Basilica or a Moët Hennessy gift shop, so you, too, can enjoy the miracle of sparkling wine, or a nave by L'Oréal (tagline: Because Jesus is Worth It).

For the super-rich, giving is really taking. Taking power, that is, from the rest of society. The billionaires will get exclusive access to the "vision" for the reconstruction of a national landmark and they can veto those plans, because if they don't like them they can withhold their cash. Money is always the most powerful casting vote, and they have it. Never mind that much of this cash actually comes from the public, as French law grants a whopping 66% tax relief on any donation -- the power is entirely private.

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Recent Movies

Starfish: I absolutely loved this. I watched it three times in short order. It starts with a funeral, and our lead goes to spend the night in her dead friend's house. But things start "unravelling" before that. She wakes up and she's missed the apocalypse: some kind of Lovecraftian Singularity Rapture leaving her all alone. Mostly it's about her dealing with her grief over her friend's death and her own bad life choices, but also, her friend left some breadcrumbs: a series of mixtapes that can save the world, because they have some kind of anti-Cthonic Videodrome signal embedded in them.

There are so many amazing details in this movie: it's a movie you have to watch and listen to. If your phone is in your hand, you're going to miss it all. It is nearly without dialog, and the score is almost a character. There are little things like, when the cassettes are playing the signal, the spindles are moving in opposite directions.

At one point the movie turns into an anime which is basically Miyazaki's Cloverfield. And it's so weirdly anachronistic and whyyy? I can't tell when it's set. There's no tech visible in the movie that post-dates 1985 or so: rotary phones, cassettes, walkie-talkies. No cell phones in evidence, though someone does once say "I didn't recognize this number", so caller ID was what, 1996? A calendar shows that it is Friday, Dec 31, which means 2010, 2004, 1999 or 1993, but old ticket stubs show the year 2014! I may have thought too hard about this part, but this is not a movie where details like that were left to chance.

Fast Color: This was really good. It feels like Logan meets Midnight Special (which I still think of as "that M83 movie"). The world's gone to hell and three generations of black women are being hunted for having cosmic mutant-powers.

Near future movies seem to be settling in on a particular look for our impending climate apocalypse, that Logan really exemplified, and this does as well -- in the 80s it was underground bunkers, sandstorms, New Rocks with fishnets. Now it's just hoodies and a shitty, picked over New Mexico convenience store that has run out of its $50 jugs of water. This apocalypse sucks.

Booksmart: Two overachieving high school seniors (who are inexplicably and unbelievably not outcasts) lose their damn minds when they realize that all of their slacker classmates also got into good schools, so they decide to "party". Slapstick ensues. It's funny and dumb. There's an animated sequence in the middle that has to be a nod to Better Off Dead.

Darkness Visible: British-born Indian guy goes to India for the first time to figure out why his mom up and left the country in the middle of the night just to go jump in front of a car. Stranger in a Strange Land And Nobody Believes Him Except For One Good Cop, yadda yadda. It's a bit formulaic but it holds up. It reminds me a bit of Deep Red, I think (or possibly I'm mixing that up with some other Argento or Bava movie).

No Alternative: A period piece set in the distant past of 1994 where a bunch of teenagers get their grunge on while trying to find reasons not to kill themselves, with limited success. The shadow of Cobain hangs heavy over this one. It is dark, but good.

Harmony: This movie is set in the Chicago part of Australia that played New York in The Matrix. The soundtrack is good. It's about a sad goth girl who's some kind of sin-eater who can absorb and take away other people's misery and sadness, but it hurts her and makes her run with black goo, none of which is great for socializing. It's overwrought and melodramatic and kind of like the opposite of The Crow: she's some sort of elemental of forgiveness instead of vengeance. And of course some creeps want to weaponize her. Anyway, it's fun. There was some definite sequel-bait at the end.

Captive State: The aliens show up to strip-mine the planet, and humanity just surrenders and lets them do it. A tiny insurgency are hunted by their fellow humans and make basically no difference at all. I feel like this is a metaphor for something. Anyway, it's not bad, though not terribly memorable.

High Life: Literally the only sound in the first 20 minutes of this movie was a baby shrieking. I couldn't take it. I fast forwarded a bit and never quite got what the plot was, except that they are prisoners on a generation ship, it gets rapey and most of them are murdered. And the physics was wonky. Normally I don't even bother writing reviews of movies I despised, but this terrible film did raise one question for me that I was not immediately able to find an answer to by googling, so maybe you can help: at 1G acceleration, what would the stars look like, and when? How many years until you see gravity's rainbow?

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DNA Lounge: Wherein we've got bartending robots and friendly neighbors

We've got quite a few entrants for the Sixth Annual Cocktail Robotics Grand Challenge this Sunday! It's looking good!

Do you like ROBOTS? And DRINKING? Experience incredible robot bartenders serving you drinks, lovingly crafted with MAD SCIENCE by the finest competitors in the art of robotic mixology, Sunday, July 21 at DNA Lounge!

Some of this year's entrants not only squirt, but can also fly, scuttle, and drive on the freeway.

You probably won't get wet. Probably. Or disassembled. Probably.

Seriously, this is one of the coolest, silliest things we do all year, and if you don't show up, we can't be friends any more.

And now I'm going to turn the mic over to MC Kingfish! Here's a story he told at the beginning of Monday Night Hubba this week. I transcribed this from the webcast at around 10:10:00:

Did anyone here go to the Big Show on Friday night?

So if you didn't go, if you don't know, it was our big "State Fair" show, and it's all kinds of State Fair themed acts. We had clowns, and we had a clown marching band with tubas and trombones and drums and all of that. And we started the marching band at 11th and Folsom, and marched our way all the way down the street to DNA Lounge and into the room.

But when we started, down there at 11th and Folsom, there was a lady standing on the sidewalk, on her cell phone. And as we started up -- Pa-rum pum. Pa-rum pum. Pa da-da-da-da-da-da, da -- and we start marching down the street, she comes right up to me and says,

"This is a. Residential. Building."

At 11th and Folsom. On Friday night. At 10:15pm.

And I looked at her and I said, "And now we're past it."

Because we're a marching band!

Like, literally we were in front of her "residential building" for about eight seconds, ok? She grabbed one of the clown girls out of the band, and said to her,

"This is unacceptable."

[Laughter]

And then, the denoument, Ladies and Gentlemen, and then she called DNA Pizza to complain, and said... "I would like to speak to a manager."

[Laughter]

If you need any further proof that showing up, participating, coming to DNA Lounge, going out and supporting your local live entertainment, is something you need to do... well...

Marching Band Megan on her cell phone is there to let you know.

You may remember the occupants of that "residential building" from their previous greatest hits, such as: forcing the original Oasis out of business back in 1998.

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Jessica Jones Opsec

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Voluntary subjunctive: I should have cocktailed.

F. Scott Fitzgerald Conjugates "to Cocktail"

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